The Regressive Era for Everyone Else

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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“In the Progressive Era, only certain types of people progressed, and others were left to regress. Everyone was supposedly “equal” and “progressing” together. Progression is the process of developing or moving gradually towards a more advanced state. Regression is a return to a former or less developed state. Though that period was called the Progressive Era, certain ages, genders, and ethnicities did not progress at all. White people’s lives were getting better while the lives of everyone else were disregarded.

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Even though the Progressive Era had some advancements, there were more awful impacts to it. The worst aspects of the Progressive Era were child labor and social inequalities.

To start, a horrible aspect of the Progressive Era was child labor. Poverty was the main reason behind child labor. According to J. Hansan,“two million American children under the age of 16 were working many of them 12 hours or more, six days a week.”. (Social Welfare History Project). Families would send their children to work for extra money. No matter how small the amount was, they would still send them out there for hours. Thus, this caused fewer adults to be paid. As a result of poverty, child labor was done by very young children. Empathized by, they cleaned machines with their small hands. ( Factory owners hired young kids because they were small enough to fit in small machinery. Adults couldn’t fix or clean machines as well as the kids. Lastly, the kids were easily controlled because they are young and immature. Since they were so young they weren’t paid a lot because they were too young to think otherwise. Child labor was any abusive, harmful, and hazardous work done in the industry by minors and was illegal.

Similarly, another terrible aspect of the Progressive Era was social inequalities. One example was the unfair working/living conditions of workers. states, “tenements” were the homes for the workers ( Tenements were poorly made housing places for the workers at factories. They were small, low quality apartments with a ton of families in one room with one bathroom. In other words, the workers lived in terribly made homes because of the careless factory owners. Most of the money was owned by the rich because, they had the poor do the hard work for them, making the powerful people richer. states “became wealthy because of the industrial boom” ( The industrial boom was when major industrialization came about. The rich people started to get more money off of the poor because of the new factories and machines that needed to be worked on, to make more product for the rich people to sell as their own. In other words, most of the nation’s wealth came from the rich. The unequal opportunities were distributed differently depending on if the person was rich or poor.

On the other hand, many people think the Progressive Era had some good aspects because of the Women’s Suffrage Movement. Feminists were the most important people during this movement. Barbara J Quinn & Claudia Isler notes “Women’s Right Convention”(57). Women’s right convention were for discussing and fighting the civil, social, and religious condition and rights for women. They made these Conventions to ensure women the right to vote for then and in the future. For example, Anne Hutchinson was one the most famous feminists , for her well known trial challenging male authority for women’s rights. Although it may be true that this era gave women the chance to get the right to vote, it was still a challenge for colored women to be on the same level as white women. Barbara J Quinn & Claudia Isler points out ,“White suffragists often used racist tactics, and some excluded black women from membership in their organizations.” (72) Women had to fight for their rights, but black women had to work even harder. The white women would sometimes not allow them into to simple arrangements. For this reason, colored women came to together to form the American Equal Rights Association so, everyone could secure their rights no matter the race or gender. This movement may have gave women the rights to vote but, African Americans still had to work harder and never would be equal with whites.

To summarize, the Progressive Era impact different people in different ways, but African Americans and children always ended up at the bottom. During child labor, kids were sent out to work so parents could get a little more spare money and children were paid little because how young they were. The Women’s Suffrage Movement may helped to get women the right to vote but, black women had to put more effort to get simple rights. Certain people may feel that the Progressive Era wasn’t all that bad because of the creation of the Women’s Suffrage Movement. This movement may have given women the right to vote, it was still a struggle to break the racial boundaries between blacks and whites. Even after all the laws and acts put into place, child labor and many social inequalities still exist till this day.”

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The Regressive Era for Everyone Else. (2021, May 24). Retrieved from